The joy of watching the fireworks on location is like no other. That feeling of excitement and euphoria after being able to capture the display in a video? Even better. The explosions of color and bright lights in the sky, the booming and popping sounds as each rocket explodes, along with the “oohs” and “aahs” of the crowd provides an unforgettable experience.
From the Fourth of July in the United States to Diwali celebrations in India; the National Day Parade in Singapore to Chinese New Year celebrations in China; Guy Fawkes Day in Britain to New Year celebrations across the world, the number of celebrations with fireworks displays are plentiful. But with so many available opportunities, do you feel like you’re still not as equipped or as prepared to capture the fireworks as you like to be?
From the equipment, to a few technical pointers, then ending off with some guidelines to the shot framing and staging of scenes, here are some tips that will guide you in making your fireworks video spectacular.
Choose The Right Lens
There isn’t a specific type of lens that has to be used, as it is up to what the videographer wants to shoot. If the goal is to capture the fireworks in the sky as well as its reflection in a body of water, use a wide angle lens. However, if the goal is just to shoot the fireworks in the sky, a medium range lens will work fine. Just remember to start off with a wide angle setting as you want to cover as much of the sky as possible because you will have no idea where the fireworks will be at.
Bring A Tripod, External Shutter Release & Flashlight
A tripod is essential to the steadiness of the camera which is really important when filming fireworks. You will also be able to enjoy the display knowing the camera is steady. However, loosen the knob such that the tripod is able to be easily adjusted. Also, make sure to be familiar with the workings of the tripod before the displays start, lest you find yourself struggling to set it up on location. Secondly, as the slightest vibrations will cause the video to turn out shaky, minimize the movement of the camera by using either a cable release or a wireless remote to set off the shutter. Lastly, remember to bring a portable flashlight along to be able to check and change your camera settings without having to guess which knob and control you are pressing on.
Set The f-stop Value To A High Number
To avoid the fireworks appearing blown out, set the camera to manual mode and set the “aperture” settings to a high value. Aperture settings come as a value of “f” and range from f2.8 to f16 or higher, depending on your camera. The higher the “f” value, the smaller the lens aperture will be, meaning that less light will be allowed into the camera lens. Setting the aperture to a high “f” value means that the video will be able to capture the detailed patterns of the fireworks.
Manually Focus The Camera To Capture The Patterns and Details
When shooting fireworks, always set focus settings to manual focus and manually focus on the fireworks. Setting the focus to manual will also result in the patterns of the fireworks being more distinct in the video. Never set your camera to auto-focus as on the auto-focus mode, the camera will react to detected light sources and the focus will alternate between blur and sharp.
Exercise Framing And Composition Best Practices
In the beginning, do not worry too much about framing rules. Keeping the fireworks in the centre of the frame and having it fill up most of the frame will look just fine. Do not attempt to chase down every single fireworks that appear in the sky. Instead, just concentrate on the main area of action. Once you have an idea of where the fireworks are, try experimenting with different framing options such as having the fireworks landing in the lower left third or upper right third of the frame. If you plan on filming the crowd at the event, keep in mind to film people and fireworks separately. Moving from fireworks to the crowd then back to the fireworks means constantly changing aperture settings and re-focusing. The best option is to shoot people before the fireworks displays start, when there is still some natural light in the surroundings.
Be mindful that as you’re only just starting out, the first few videos won’t be as perfect. But keep the tips mentioned here in mind and keep practicing every chance you get, soon enough, you’ll capture footage so spectacular friends and family can’t help but to be in awe of.
Lastly, make sure to upload your clips of the fireworks displays to MotionElements and start selling stock footage to generate a passive income from these spectacular displays of light in the sky.